Seasonal Celebrations-Winter Solistice 2012

 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

 

I wasn’t sure if winter would show itself before the solstice or before I wrote this post.  But there is nothing more reliable here than knowing we will have snow before the solstice and usually before December.  For me, snow signals winter and the coming of the next season sometimes the longest and not so welcome of seasons here.  But I take solace in knowing in other parts of the world, there is warmth and sunshine as summer arrives on this date in the Southern half of the world.

I think the best snows are those that cling to everything washing the landscape out, but at the same time blinding us as the sun reflects off the sparkling crystals.  The snow can also weigh you down after a while as it comes and doesn’t relent until mid to late March.  It is especially weighty when it starts in late October and goes until April.  Much too long to be buried in white with no colors to break up the landscape.

 

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.”  ~Andrew Wyeth

 

For those of us North of the equator, I find myself in a more sequestered time unable to work in the garden or see much of anything but white.  I really love the Frost poem above as it epitomizes the coming of the winter solstice.  I find watching snow to be meditative.  It feels as if I am being swallowed up in it unable to see the boundaries of my garden or my life.  With the edges blurred it is hard to know where I am.  I feel off kilter and floating about like snow flakes on a light breeze.  But the snow is lovely to see as it gives a clean coat of fluffy white to everything making it a perfect symbol of renewal.

 

“I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.” ~Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

As an astronomical event, the winter solstice is the time when the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky appearing at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon giving us the fewest hours of daylight in the Northern hemisphere. It occurs either December 21st or 22nd.

Ancient celebrations of the solstice were founded on the idea of surviving the harsh winters.  Animals were slaughtered so they did not have to be fed during winter giving people fresh meat during this time.  Wine and beer were finally ready for drinking and used in celebrations.

 

But the winter solstice also signals a time of events and celebrations worldwide.  Many cultures see it as a time of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals and rituals. 

  • Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas, December 25th.
  • And for children it is the time to prepare for SantaSaint NicholasFather Christmas or one his varied names around the world born from many legends.
  • In east Asia there is the Dongzhi Festival when families get together to celebrate the solstice.
  • In Jamaica, the Bahamas and West Africa Jonkanoo is celebrated as a fantastic masquerade and street festival.
  • In Scandinavia Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated which occurs on December 13, the Winter solstice according to the old Julian calendar.
  • Soyalangwul is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and  Hopi (Native American tribes in the SW United States). The ritual is held on December 21 to ceremonially bring the sun back from its winter slumber, and to mark the beginning of another cycle of the Wheel of the Year.
  • Hanukkah also known as the Festival of Lights is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
  • And more recently there is the celebration of Kwanzaa a week-long secular holiday honoring African-American heritage, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year.

 

While winter can be a most depressing time of year, I am hopeful that I can celebrate the season well past the solstice.  I will keep my garden alive indoors under grow lights, and wait for those rare  thaws when I can see a bit of green outside.  Of course my friends South of the equator are basking in their hot summer sun surrounded by beautiful blooms which will help keep me going too.

I hope you will join in now and tell us all about how you are celebrating the new season especially around this very special solstice   Just write a post and leave a comment here with your Seasonal Celebrations link.  

 

 

My winter mantra:

I plan to explore my inner self more this winter and take stock of habits and changes that need to be made both in myself and my environment.

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you …..  In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ~Ruth Stout

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Come Join Us:

Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time.  I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether winter or summer or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays and celebrations in pictures and words.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of autumn here in the North and spring in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.

The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice (around the 21st of December).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the solstice to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create).  The badges here can be used in your post.   So won’t you join in the celebration!!

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Next up on the blog:     Monday will be time for an assessment of the November garden.  In December I plan to look at the blooms of the past, savor another Garden Book and present my last native plant for the final installment of Simply The Best and Dozen for DianaElephant’s Eye.  Of course I will be presenting my Garden Lessons Learned too.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my most current post now.  A new post goes up on the 11th.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

 

62 comments

  1. Gaia gardener says:

    Love this post! “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a favorite poem of mine, and your final photo of the tracks wandering off through the snow is perfectly juxtaposed with your winter mantra. Thanks for sharing.

      • Rambling Woods says:

        I don’t have my head in the game at present. I will look at the rules and put it into my calendar as I do love my new hobby…regarding cattails..we have a ledge in the pond. I could try some there on a limited basis..they take me back to good childhood memories… hugs..

        • Donna says:

          That’s a great idea for the cattails. As far as the rules for Seasonal Celebrations, just create a post about how you celebrate the season and leave a link here in a comment..that simple…it can be words or pictures or both..very simple! Just post before the 20th. I understand if your head is not in the game.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Lovely. I especially love the quote from Ruth Stout. And I hope you will enjoy belonging to yourself this winter.

    If you have a moment imagine Colorado manteled in snow. We so desparately need it.

    Thanks!

    • Donna says:

      Cheryl I will happily send you some snow…we missed out on enough last winter…perhaps you can join in the meme especially if you get some snow.

  3. laura@eljaygee says:

    Donna, your snow garden is celebration enough – when dry architecture comes into its own. The layering of silence is one of the joys of winter with snow. Here in the UK 3cm makes national news but might celebrate a proper winter with chilblains and dead aphids if the the predictions of the worst winter for 100 years comes true!

    • Donna says:

      So much happens this time of year so join in Laura if the spirit moves you…photos are a great way to celebrate the season of winter or the solstice or whatever…

  4. Helen/patientgardener says:

    As we dont reliably have snow here in the UK the sign of winter is when the leaves have left the trees. I like the winter solsitice as it means the days will start to get longer and spring is coming closer

  5. Donna says:

    I too believe watching the snowflakes has a meditative quality. I find nothing depressing about winter, it is sad some do. I actually love this time of year because all is given new life. The countryside looks beautiful dressed in snow. I would not feel at home if there is no snow, as snow makes a warm home all the more inviting.

    • Donna says:

      I think the constant gray and snowing can bring on cabin fever and a bit of depression for me Donna…but if I can get out and see the sun occasionally then I am good. I too am so used to snow I would be lost without it. It was hard for me to live in AZ without snow although there is a bit now and then.

  6. debsgarden says:

    The Robert Frost poem is an old favorite, and your photos are so very beautiful! I love the last photo with the animal footprints. For me, snow is a remote dream. Today I stood on the patio and watched the crystal blue sky and the leaves continuing to fall, even as the temperature climbed into the 70s.

    • Donna says:

      Deborah, I am so happy to bring you a bit of snow…I bet your celebration this season is wonderfully beautiful…I would love it if you shared…Happy Solstice!

  7. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    Lovely. My world isn’t white this time of year, most years at least. We get snow in December sometimes, but it often quickly melts. So far, this winter we are so very warm and not getting any snow at all. I’m still planting bulbs and wishing for cooler weather to wear sweaters. We need rain so I’m looking longingly at your snow.

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the poem with your words.~~Dee

    • Donna says:

      Our snow melted and we had some rain and now warm temps for a few days, but I expect we will have snow again soon…love to send some your way…if you think of a seasonal celebration join in! 🙂

  8. Flâneur Gardener says:

    My favourite part of winter is when there’s snow enough to make snow lanterns; they bring a bit of light into the garden at a time when there is only just over 7 hours from sunrise to sunset…

    http://flaneurgardening.com/2012/12/02/i-suppose-this-means-winter-is-here/

    As for the solstice, I do try to celebrate it, as people in Scandinavia have done for eons. And to me, Christmas – Yule – will always remain a celebration of light and the return of summer. On Christmas the apartment will be alight with candles, there will be candles on the Christmas tree and there will be an abundance of food and drink, as well as hopes for a new season and the return of the sun.

    • Donna says:

      I really loved your post about the snow lanterns…so glad you linked in…I will remember that this season is a celebration of light…I usually get out my candles and light them for the holiday but now we travel for Christmas so we will light them all the days before the solstice. 🙂

      • Flâneur Gardener says:

        “Get out my candles”? I never put mine away! I use candles and tea lights by the hundreds during a year and always have a stash at the ready… We use them for dinner parties, for when we sit outside on summer evenings, indoors when we watch the telly on dark evenings and – of course – on the Christmas tree.

        To me, live candles are equivalent to cosiness; in Scandinavia we really tend to use them all the time, though of course especially during our dark winters.

        • Donna says:

          When summer comes I tend to not use them because it is light so long and the bugs chase us in at night…but you are right I love mine especially during the holidays…during summer, spring and fall we have outdoor fires to warm us and chase away the bugs….I agree light from a flickering candle or campfire is so cozy

  9. Janet, The Queen of Seaford says:

    The Robert Frost poem is one that instills peace exemplified by a snowfall. Love it. I also like the Andrew Wyeth quote. He is an interesting person.
    I am trying to get more fit this winter, started this past week.
    It is so interesting to read about your snow as I have come in from working outside in our 70 degree weather. What a screwy winter.

    • Donna says:

      Janet I hope to just get into a good routine this winter to work on my fitness level…not so easy and I wish you lots of luck…I will stay inspired by you. Can you believe it was 70 here today and tomorrow it will snow again…very weird weather.

  10. susan troccolo says:

    My breath is fogging the cold window pane and my forehead is leaning on the glass, the better to see outside onto a frigid landscape—to see the bones of the garden. On the kitchen table, there are stacks of catalogs with perfect pictures of glossy vegetables and glowing descriptions of “days to maturity” and “insect resistance”. Who writes these perpetually hopeful reviews of basil and shiny red peppers?

    This is my yearly ritual around the winter solstice. This is my honoring of the deepening season when I know that everything important is going on beneath the earth’s chilly crust. I trust that pact with the earth. And why not? In the sixteen years of my gardening life, life has always come roaring back each spring independent of me, my losses and gains.

    This past July, on the 7th of that glorious month to be exact, my sweet Jenny died. Of ovarian cancer, a brutal disease that brings the word “unfair” to mind though what is fair in this wide world? My cousin Jenny, eleven years younger, decades wiser, my cousin/sister/daughter/friend. A gardener much more knowledgeable than me, someone in love with life who really really didn’t want to go.

    So in this solstice season I look out on my patch of earth and feel acutely the “thin places” as the Irish say—the bare unadorned winter when the veil between worlds is especially thin—then I bow to my grief and my joy (nearly one and the same these days) and dedicate this year’s garden to Jenny. May she guide my hands. May she get some dirt under her nails.

    • Donna says:

      Susan thank you for this most beautiful post to be included in Seasonal Celebrations. I could not think of a more lovely tribute and a way to celebrate the solstice a time of rebirth.

      • susan troccolo says:

        Thank you Donna. I so appreciate being a part of your Seasonal Celebrations. The article on my website has a photo of Jenny if anyone is interested. It shows someone brimming with life on the Mendocino coast she loved so well.

        • Donna says:

          You describe Jenny perfectly as someone full of life…the part of this meme I love is being able to share such wonderful blogs and posts…usually many folks visit the blogs and I hope they see your moving story Susan

    • Donna says:

      It is perfect for Seasonal Celebrations as it celebrates your winter garden…I am very excited that you submitted such a beautiful post and will add it to our wrap up on Friday’s post…if you would like to add a link back to gardenseyeview.com on your post and mention Seasonal Celebrations that would be nice. Thank you again for being part of the meme.

    • Donna says:

      Our snow is gone but it is supposed to return this weekend. Love the last post on the London Plane Trees. I am so glad you were able to finish this series in time for the solstice. The wrap up would not be complete without your post 🙂

  11. Jean says:

    Donna, It is fitting that I am finally getting a chance to read this on the solstice. I have long loved the Robert Frost poem, but oddly never processed its reference to the winter solstice. I was also struck by your quote from Thoreau; as I drove north from Pennsylvania earlier in the week, I was struck by the beauty of solitary beech trees with their wheat-colored foliage glowing among the evergreens. Happy solstice!

    • Donna says:

      Jean I was not surprised to see we both had posts about the solstice…check out the reveal that is up with all the posts that added into the meme…wish I could have included yours as it was perfect. Glad you enjoyed the post!!

  12. Andrea says:

    Hi Donna, I looked for your Seasonal Celebrations to link my post, but i guess our seasonal mark is really not coinciding with your cut-off as we have really very different schedules in time! My post today is made supposedly for this link though!

    • Donna says:

      Hi Andrea. The next Seasonal Celebration starts March 1 so I will add your post for that one as it is closer. I will make note of the link. As you can see the seasons around the world are a bit different in times but that is fine as it will all work out in the end. I do not have a Mr. Linky but you would leave your link in your comment. I can do that as I know the link.

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